How the Executive Master of Public Administration sharpened Tyron Paspa’s focus on public value
26 April 2022● News and media
The Victorian Government has invested $148.2 million to establish the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership. One of the Academy’s core functions is delivering a new Australian-first program of advanced professional learning for the state’s highest-performing teachers and school leaders across all school systems.
As Project Director, Tyron Paspa was tasked with ensuring the Academy was operational from January 2022, and ready to deliver inspirational, evidence-informed learning.
“There are three streams of work: there is a legislation piece, there is infrastructure to put in place because there will be seven regional sites and two metropolitan sites, and there is the development of new programs and the transition of existing programs into the Academy. There has also been work around building and resourcing a new organisation with people, processes and policies,” says Tyron.
“The challenges have been interesting and fatiguing, but there have been highlights too! The legislation passing through Parliament was a wonderful celebration point and each time we found a suitable regional site was terrific. To see the Minister’s vision coming to life has also been wonderful.”
When Tyron left his high school in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, he had no set career plans so enrolled in an arts degree majoring in political theory and Indonesian language. After working at Deakin University for a number of years following graduation, in 2013, he joined the Victorian Government graduate program.
“I hadn’t considered state government and when I joined, I don’t think I saw a long career there, but it has been wonderful for me,” says Tyron.
“I found myself initially in a budget strategy and resourcing role and felt out of my depth but it developed a mix of skills I had around economic models, delivering on public policy and purchasing, delivering public value and weighing up the merits of different proposals.
“I then took a role in program evaluation in response to a Victorian Auditor General report into transitions to school and the pathway between kindergarten and school. Several recommendations had been made and the department had to respond to those, which we did by collecting data to prove efficacy.”
Tyron then moved into the infrastructure arena and spent several years in senior roles that involved school infrastructure investment and asset management.
“I spent a couple of years designing the case for investment and policies behind how we managed a $20 billion school infrastructure portfolio,” he says.
“Then in 2020, I joined the Department of Health and Human Services to assist with the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. I became Program Manager providing the ‘Hotel for Heroes’ where frontline workers could have hotel accommodation away from their family if they were at risk of being exposed to COVID. I jumped in and established processes and resourcing for the program before returning to the Victorian School Building Authority.”
From 2019 to 2020, Tyron combined his public service responsibilities with studying the Executive Master of Public Administration. The EMPA was suggested to him by his then Executive Director at the Victorian School Building Authority.
“I knew ANZSOG was revered and the best public servants studied there. I knew a couple of people who’d done it before and they were impressive but I hadn’t considered doing the EMPA because I didn’t think I was in the same company as those people I’d met,” says Tyron.
“I wanted to be better and I feel you can always improve. I was three years in a role then and I needed to keep the flame alive in terms of my own professional development. I wanted to know how I could be better at that job and whatever job came next.
“I jumped into the EMPA without thinking about how to find the time to do it — it’s intensive study — but I loved it. It was wonderful to be able to apply the stuff you studied between 7pm and midnight to what you do at work during the day.”
Tyron was the youngest of his EMPA cohort that included deputy secretaries, commissioners, executive directors and chief economists.
“I met them on day one and had a massive dose of imposter syndrome – I felt I was the youngest and most unimpressive person there!” he says.
“But I developed by learning from the people in the course. They were so generous with their time and willing to chat about issues and their experiences. I’ve tapped into them since and now have a network in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and New Zealand. One is now a Commissioner in Indigenous Affairs, another is working in family violence and some of my cohort are doing critical work around first responders.”
Tyron found the public value element of the EMPA especially useful.
“If you asked my team how often I mention public value, they would say I am constantly banging on about it!” he says.
“ANZSOG makes the case that public service doesn’t just happen — it’s deliberate, purposeful and needs to achieve an objective, and if it doesn’t do that then it shouldn’t be done. When you have an endorsement from government to do something, you need to do it well and to meet the objectives and requirements that government has given you. We have to deliver public value in everything we do, every day — that has been the primary thing I’ve taken away.
“I will be in the public service for a long time. I love delivering on something that is good for the community and I’ll go wherever the next reform project is, or where my skills can help deliver public value.”
Find out more about ANZSOG’s Foundation Programs
A part-time postgraduate qualification developed and delivered by ANZSOG exclusively for high-performing public sector managers.
A program that challenges senior public service executives working in the public domain to develop new leadership perspectives in a contemporary and highly interactive setting.
A unique program that helps public service leaders develop the qualities needed to thrive in a senior executive role: a strategic outlook, political astuteness, personal resilience and the ability to reflect and learn continuously.